The effect of terrorism on public confidence : an exploratory study.

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A primary goal of terrorism is to instill a sense of fear and vulnerability in a population and to erode confidence in government and law enforcement agencies to protect citizens against future attacks. In recognition of its importance, the Department of Homeland Security includes public confidence as one of the metrics it uses to assess the consequences of terrorist attacks. Hence, several factors--including a detailed understanding of the variations in public confidence among individuals, by type of terrorist event, and as a function of time--are critical to developing this metric. In this exploratory study, a questionnaire was designed, tested, and ... continued below

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Berry, M. S.; Baldwin, T. E.; Samsa, M. E.; Ramaprasad, A. & Sciences, Decision and Information October 31, 2008.

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Description

A primary goal of terrorism is to instill a sense of fear and vulnerability in a population and to erode confidence in government and law enforcement agencies to protect citizens against future attacks. In recognition of its importance, the Department of Homeland Security includes public confidence as one of the metrics it uses to assess the consequences of terrorist attacks. Hence, several factors--including a detailed understanding of the variations in public confidence among individuals, by type of terrorist event, and as a function of time--are critical to developing this metric. In this exploratory study, a questionnaire was designed, tested, and administered to small groups of individuals to measure public confidence in the ability of federal, state, and local governments and their public safety agencies to prevent acts of terrorism. Data were collected from the groups before and after they watched mock television news broadcasts portraying a smallpox attack, a series of suicide bomber attacks, a refinery bombing, and cyber intrusions on financial institutions that resulted in identity theft and financial losses. Our findings include the following: (a) the subjects can be classified into at least three distinct groups on the basis of their baseline outlook--optimistic, pessimistic, and unaffected; (b) the subjects make discriminations in their interpretations of an event on the basis of the nature of a terrorist attack, the time horizon, and its impact; (c) the recovery of confidence after a terrorist event has an incubation period and typically does not return to its initial level in the long-term; (d) the patterns of recovery of confidence differ between the optimists and the pessimists; and (e) individuals are able to associate a monetary value with a loss or gain in confidence, and the value associated with a loss is greater than the value associated with a gain. These findings illustrate the importance the public places in their confidence in government and law enforcement and also indicate that the level of importance is clearly of a magnitude on the order of other major terrorist event consequences, such as loss of human life and impacts to the economy.

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  • Report No.: ANL/DIS-08/06
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-06CH11357
  • DOI: 10.2172/943430 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 943430
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc898760

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  • October 31, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Sept. 28, 2016, 6:01 p.m.

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Berry, M. S.; Baldwin, T. E.; Samsa, M. E.; Ramaprasad, A. & Sciences, Decision and Information. The effect of terrorism on public confidence : an exploratory study., report, October 31, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc898760/: accessed December 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.